This summer we planned several get-a-way trips in Ontario and one overseas trip. It's natural for me to attend to my wellness when I am away on vacation - especially if I am on an all-inclusive resort. However, being home during the summer break is a whole other kettle of fish. Like me, you are probably thinking that the summer break from school is approaching and unless you are away on vacation the thought of you being able to prioritize your wellness with the kiddos (big and small) home from school is daunting. Sure, they may have summer jobs, be enrolled in summer camps, spend time with relatives or friends, have play-dates - which all helps to keep them busy and developing, but what about the days when they are home with us - for hours on end?

I am sure you love your children - I certainly love my little big people. And I am sure you like spending time with them - I sure love spending time with mine. While this break will give us more time to observe and take delight in the intricacies of their personalities, relish in their play, or notice their resourceful tent-making in the living room, we'll need to find a different groove to making sure that the children's summer break doesn't throw a wrench in our wellness goals.

6 tips we hold dear to that can also help you to prioritize wellness in everyday practice while your child/ren are home for the summer break.

  • Carve out time for them. When you're within 10 feet of your children 12 hours a day, it's easy to confuse physical proximity to them as an emotional connection with them (Focus on the Family Canada). Give your child/ren "FaceTime" as you would your smartphones. This may buffer the tendency for them to want to make your “me time,” their “mommy-and-me" or "daddy-and-me" time. In a recent training I attended on "Creating a Great Family Life" through Morneau Shapell it was stated that statistics show an alarming trend that people spend with their children on average four minutes face-to-face and twelve minutes face-to-face with their spouse. If you're wondering when you became a Siamese twin it may be because your child/ren are not getting your undivided attention.
  • Have a family schedule/calendar. Get a family calendar with stickers or if you have older children, have an online calendar that is sync to everyone’s smartphone. Knowing who’s doing what and when is particularly helpful. If having dinner together is important and you want to establish a family ritual together schedule it in. As conversations come up with your partner or children during these “family times”, remember to listen without judgment, don’t offer remedies too quickly, and ask lots of questions. Now that’s an example of caring for the important relationships in your life – now that’s wellness!
  • Let them know your “wellness schedule” and put it on the family calendar. Just as they would know when you are working, they should know when you take your wellness breaks for naps, to walk, jog, exercise, read, shoot some hoops, play a game of handball, etc. Establishing a routine that they can expect daily is a way to make your wellness priority. Put it on the family calendar so that everyone can remember.
  • Get an extra set of eyes and hands. Ask a trusted teenager, college or university student who normally would be in school but is on summer break to help out with small children for a short period of the day so that you can attend to self. For example, you may need to take a power nap during the day especially if you are an entrepreneur who may have some late nights, have a job with hours around the clock, or a parent with young children who are not sleeping through the night.
  • Delegate chores in your home according to their strengths. Children have a role to play in the home. When they are old enough to, delegate chores to them. Look at their strengths. Are they organized, creative? Allow them to flourish in their strengths. Think about what you need to get done in your household and cater to their needs. For example, you need the laundry to be sorted, get your creative 4-year-old who loves to play basketball to “shoot some laundry”. Have two separate baskets that become their nets. Now you have one less thing to do around the home.
  • Make an official “quiet time” daily in your home where they are engaged in independent activities while you get some needed R&R (rest and recuperation).

Making wellness a priority is not any different from wanting a promotion at work or an opportunity that will get you more business. You push for it. This is what you want and this is your priority. The outcome is very rewarding, isn’t it? The same thing applies here. If you want to achieve your wellness goals this summer you can. It’s a choice. Thinking about the individuals in your family and how together you shape the culture of your family can help you and your home give off wellness vibes this summer.